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PNA Slams Israeli Deception over Detainees Release

PNA Slams Israeli ‘Deception’ over Release of Detainees

IOF Arrest as Many Palestinians Since June 29 as the Number Freed: Ha’aretz

The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested nearly as many Palestinians since the Hudna (truce) was declared on June 29 as the number of detainees Israel freed Wednesday and the Palestine National Authority (PNA) protested against the Israeli “deception” by not organizing official welcome ceremonies for those released.

The Palestinian prisoners' affairs ministry said there would be no official welcome for the detainees, as a protest of Israeli "deception."

Ha’aretz reported Wednesday that “an examination of the records since the cease-fire was declared on June 29 shows that the army has arrested nearly as many Palestinians since then - 320 - as the number it freed Wednesday.”

The IOF early Wednesday, only hours before the release of slightly more than 300 detainees, arrested 18 Palestinian security officers as they mounted their first incursion into the West Bank city of Jericho for months, a Palestinian security official told AFP.

A column of around 20 jeeps and armored personnel carriers advanced 500 meters (150 feet) into Maghtas street in downtown Jericho, near a training camp for Force 17, an AFP correspondent reported.

A curfew was imposed and Israeli troops detained 18 Palestinians in house-to-house searches, local commander of the Palestinian national security forces Munjib Zeidan told AFP.

He said 15 of those arrested were members of the Palestinian security and protection force, which is not linked to Force 17, and the other three worked for the intelligence services.

"These men were simple officers. None of my men are wanted by Israel, these arrests do not make any sense," Zeidan said.

The IOF official figures show they arrested only 146 Palestinians since the hudna was announced by Hamas and Islamic Jihad as their number does not include those who were arrested, held and then released.

The original number of releases was set to be 339, but five prisoners had their releases revoked following a request to the Israeli Justice Ministry by an organization representing “victims of terror attacks.”

The decision to hold off on the release of the five was made in consultations between representatives of the Justice Ministry and the bureau of Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein. The request also included the claim that one of the five, Rami Barghouti, tortured Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel, Ha’aretz said.

Palestinian President Yasser Arafat called the release a "deceit," referring to the fact that most of the prisoners to be freed had nearly completed their terms.

"This is laughing in our face," said Hisham Abdel Razzek, Palestinian prisoners' affairs minister.

"When I look at the list I see that 158 of them are administrative detainees, while Israel is holding 1,250 such detainees. There are 183 who were tried. Eighty per cent of them were to be released in three months," Abdel Razzek added.

The head of the independent Palestinian Prisoners' Club in the West Bank, Khaleda Jarar, confirmed PNA official statements.

She said almost half the prisoners being freed were “administrative detainees” held without charge. Of the remaining prisoners serving sentences, she said, 80 percent were in the final year of their terms.

Arafat’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeineh said Wednesday the limited release was inadequate and that Israel "should release all the prisoners."

"This is not the understanding, this is not the agreement," he said. "The Israelis should release all the prisoners."

Palestinian premier Mahmoud Abbas called off a planned Wednesday meeting with his Israeli counterpart Ariel Sharon mostly because of the prisoner dispute.

Israel is holding more than 7,700 prisoners, and Palestinians demand that Israel free thousands of them. Israel, however, says it won't release Palestinians involved in “terror attacks.”

More than 300 Palestinian detainees were released Wednesday at Tarqumiya checkpoint in the southern West Bank, Tulkarem and Salem crossings in northern West Bank, Beitunya west of Ramallah and Beit Hanoon crossing point between Gaza Strip and Israel.

About 100 detainees who were held for criminal charges will be freed later this week, Israeli media reported.

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